Airbus Helicopters Announces Orders, Program Updates

Credit: Airbus Helicopters

ANAHEIM, California—The market for Airbus Helicopters has been stable, Airbus officials say.

But rather than growth, the market is for replacement helicopters, especially in the air medical and law enforcement areas, the company says. 

The market in 2019 was similar to that in 2018, said Romain Trapp, Airbus president and head of the North American region. 

Last year was a positive one for Airbus Helicopters in terms of market share, Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even said.

Even spoke at a media briefing during HAI Heli-Expo 2020, sponsored by Helicopter Association International, held here Jan. 27-30.

In 2020, Airbus will focus on innovation, product improvements and bringing value to its customers, Even said. “We are here this week to listen to our customers, to listen to what you want us to do. This is our main job.”

 Shell Works To Put H160 In Offshore Operations

Airbus made a number of announcements at Heli-Expo, chief among them that it is working with Shell Aircraft to put the H160 helicopter in service for offshore transportation. 

Shell is seeking the opportunity for early introduction of service of the aircraft, it says. Shell has worked with Airbus over the past year to understand the design and manufacturing philosophy behind the H160, it said. 

To that end, it will remain engaged with Airbus through its final certification stages and look for opportunities to accelerate introduction into offshore service, said Tony Cramp, Shell’s vice president of aircraft. The aircraft incorporates technological innovations with safety features, flight envelope protection, pilot assistance and automated features. Its compact size will be an advantage when landing on oil platforms, Even said. 

The H160 is projected to enter service in 2020. 

Maverick Sales 

Maverick Helicopters, a Las Vegas-based tour operator, signed a contract with Airbus during the show to retrofit its fleet of 34 EC130 B4 helicopters with the Airbus Crash Resistant Fuel System. 

Maverick operates a fleet of 49 Airbus helicopters and carries 250,000 passengers a year to sites in Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Hawaii. 

Airbus has received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification on the crash-resistant fuel system and expects FAA certification in the next few months. It is available on the AS350 B3 variant for retrofit. 

The CRFS is standard on all H125 aircraft produced in its Columbus, Mississippi, production facility. It will now come standard on all new H125s built worldwide, Airbus says. 

NASA Orders H135s

NASA has placed an order for three Airbus H135 Signature helicopters to replace its current fleet of three Huey 2 aircraft (see related story). 

New H145s For Emergency Medical 

Germany’s DRF Luftrettung signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters to buy 15 new H145s, three H135s and to retrofit 20 of its H145s to a five-bladed version. The order will bring the helicopter emergency medical services provider’s fleet of H145 aircraft to 35 helicopters. It will also make it the biggest operator of the five-bladed H145 aircraft in the world, Airbus said.

“This new contract, with the patient at the top of our priorities, launches the last phase of our fleet renewal,” said Krystian Pracz, DRF Lufrettung CEO. “The new H145 helps us, thanks to the increased useful load, to improve our services.” 

In addition, Airbus will provide four more H145 helicopters as part of an expansion of the UK Military Fleet Training System (UKMFTS). The helicopters will join a fleet of 29 H135s and three H145s. Deliveries are scheduled for 2020 and will be operated by Ascent Flight Training Management on behalf of the Ministry of Defense and be used to train pilots and rear crew.

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.